Promoting Dialogue and Peace in Mindanao through Madaris Gurus and Catechists

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

The new conflict in Mindanao that started last May 23 in Marawi    is becoming one of the most challenging problems in the recent history of the Philippines. The high number of victims, the destruction of the city, the people who have been forced to leave their houses, the martial law, the   fear and hatred among groups and clans and the increasing religious radicalism with violence   urge all of us to move with more courage and creativity.

Why so much violence and what will be the future of Mindanao with all the negative signs of today and  what to do to dream again the future peace in Mindanao?”

 

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

These questions have challenged the Silsilah Dialogue Movement to do more in many ways in the past and now especially through the program called: “ Madaris Gurus and Catechists.
In the past years many teachers of Madaris (plural of Madrasa) and the catechists of Zamboanga, Basilan, Jolo, Davao and other places have benefited by this program of Silsilah. This is a special training to gather together madaris gurus and catechists of a certain area, by groups, inviting them to live together for a few days to build respect, trust, friendship and   teach them the concept of Christian-Muslim dialogue. Guided by this spirit they are invited to teach parts of their lesson in the spirit of dialogue.

To achieve this goal they will be guided to learn more about the Culture of Dialogue, Path to Peace.  For us this is a spirituality that has to be first  experienced on the personal level  to be effective on the social level. Thus, we teach  the participants dialogue  with God, with the self, with others and with creation according to to his own religion.  This includes also dialogue  in  families, communities, in the same religion and  in all aspects of life. For this reason we usually  include in the  teaching of the Culture of Dialogue the concept of personal and social transformation and what normally is presented as intra and inter religious dialogue.

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

Our experience is that after these trainings   most of the participants  start to  be more dialogical among  themselves, not only in school, but also in  society. A touching experience among the many is what  the madaris gurus of Jolo shared with us on one occasion.  Jolo is a land of conflict  and the presence of the Christians is   less than  5%. Many Christians  have left  especially in recent years for the many acts of violence and kidnappings where  the victims are especially Christians.  The  positive  story is that  after the  training in Silsilah the  madaris gurus and the catechists  start to become friends and  when they meet in the market area or other places they smile and greet each other. This is  also the experience of other  participants in other areas and this can be considered  positive stories  and  signs of hope.

The  conflict in Marawi has opened    the eyes of many to a reality that in the past military and other leaders used to deny.  It is already  open news for all and the sad experience of  the increasing  conflict  justified by an increasing  intolerance of the part of  the more  radical  groups. They now do not only go against the Christians, but also against  Muslims  who are not like them and with the same orientation.  Some of the Muslims   are considered “ Kafir” ( infidel) by those who claim to be Muslims  but not of the same orientation .

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

This  reality  can not be denied any more. All now know  about the ISIS/Maute group present in Mindanao and other groups who are not so  well known yet, but are  also dangerous.
In addition to this  training, Silsilah  will also intensify other programs especially  in schools in  collaboration  with   youth leaders and groups willing to share the spirit of dialogue and peace that Silsilah promotes. This  plan will start from Zamboanga and will reach  many others, especially in all the areas where Silsilah is present  with groups called SILSILAH FORUM.  At present  the active  Silsilah Forum areas are in Tawi-Tawi, Siasi, Jolo, Basilan, Sibugay, Pagadian,  Cotabato, Kidapawan, Davao, Manila, Antipolo and other places where the groups are at the first stage of growth.

It is our desire and hope to  identify among the madaris gurus and catechists those who  are willing to join  Silsilah to  share this experience  and become  Instruments of dialogue and peace in our society.

 

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

We can not deny that  we continue our mission  with  sadness considering that  in spite of our  efforts and the efforts of many others  for dialogue and peace in Mindanao   there are  still many  victims of  violence. There are those who get discouraged  but for us who have   experienced in the past  also  the pain of  other friends who have been killed in their mission of dialogue and peace, we  are  renewed by God’s presence and the  spirit of  Padayon ( move on) and continue to  move and encourage all  to continue to   dream  for a future real and sincere  peace in Mindanao.

 

 

(This article is courtesy of Silsilah Dialogue Movement. Thank you Silsilah for faithfully sending me newsletters about our interfaith movement. – Fr. Felmar Castrodes Fiel, SVD)

 

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Peace, my Dream. Courage Marawi

Text and Photo Credit: Nor Asiah Madale Adilao, Silsilah Forum Davao Coordinator

In the midst of the realities of violence, we have people both Muslims and Christians who are willing to help. This is the other side of Marawi that we need to highlight. Regardless of religions and tribes people are helping one another to creatively respond to the needs of those who are affected by the siege.

This conviction led the Silsilah Forum Davao to initiate Stress Debriefing moments for adults and Play Therapy time for children who have been exposed to the armed conflict in Marawi City. The initiative is in partnership with the Dominican Fathers-Philippines and committed volunteers from Davao City and Marawi. The Eleven LID Team Volunteers journeyed from Davao to Iligan City on June 27, 2017. In the evening, we had an orientation at the Catholic Campus Center Ministry (CCCM) to prepare the team for the following day’s activities. The LID Team was accommodated whole-heartedly and generously at the CCCM.


On June 28, 2017, the Life in Dialogue (LID) Team and volunteers facilitated the Story Telling sessions and Play Therapy at the Barangay Santiago Covered Court, Iligan City. The theme of the sessions was “Peace, my Dream.” It was a gathering of hope, courage and gratitude to Allah for the gift of children. There were about 350 Internally Displaced People who participated in the gathering.


The programme started with an emotional atmosphere, because the people remembered the destruction of their beloved place, Marawi. Then, the Harmony prayer in Maranao version was recited. During the morning programme, the adult evacuees were gathered into ten groups. The sharing of the group was focused and guided by the question: “What is my dream for the future?” We were grateful because they shared their experiences and dreams, and participated in the whole process.


It was a heart-breaking experience listening to the difficulties and what the evacuees had gone through when the attack in Marawi started. Their common sharing expressed that they want to go home to Marawi. It is our desire too that the telling of stories will continue to bring about holistic healing, peace, joy and hope. Since we were celebrating Eid’l Fitr, we distributed simple gifts in the form of hygiene kits. The gathering concluded with a solidarity lunch.

In the afternoon, the children shared their gifts and talents; they sang and played. The gathering concluded with a Puppet Show presentation entitled: Let’s Celebrate! The story promotes a message of encouragement, and draws out the values of hope, love, respect, friendship, peace and harmony.


The gathering was designed to remind the society that the children have a lot to teach us adults how to promote the culture of harmony and peace. The children can become agents of harmony. However, it is a reality that children are often ignored in the community. In most of our local traditions, children are not even counted. Yet they are always the victims of the natural and man-made calamities. They are the most vulnerable sector of our society.


But, we cannot anymore ignore their presence. Their contributions have to be acknowledged and appreciated. The cry of the children is: PEACE, MY DREAM. Courage Marawi! We must continue the journey for peace. We can do it together.


We are grateful to our LID Team Volunteers for their whole-hearted commitment to help our vulnerable brothers and sisters in Marawi. Morever, we are also appreciative to our donors, sponsors and partners for their generous contributions to the initiative: “Courage Marawi, Peace my Dream.

 

 

(My special thanks to Maa’am Nor Asiah Madali Adelao for allowing me to post her article in my facebook page and my blog. Thank you also to my Silsilah Dialogue Movement family in Zamboanga City for faithfully sending me their newsletter. – Fr. Felmar Castrodes Fiel, SVD)

CBCP Statement on Marawi, Terrorism and Dialogue

Text and Photo Credit: CBCP News

“Turn from Evil and Do Good,
Seek Peace and Pursue It” (Ps. 34:14)

 

TO ALL PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL:

 

Greetings of peace in the Almighty and Most Merciful God.

 

We, the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines, wish to enjoin your assistance and collaboration. We all cry from our hearts: War in Marawi, never again! War in Marawi, no more! We therefore call for the return to normalcy and peace in Marawi and its environs as soon as possible. We wonder whether the continued state of Martial Law, much more its extension, will bring this about.

 

We believe that the war in Marawi is not religious. We have heard and read truly stunning stories of how Muslims have protected and helped Christians to escape from almost certain death. Even now Christians are assisting thousands of Muslims who have fled from Marawi for safety. These are indisputable signs that there is no religious war.

 

Condemnation of Terrorism and Violent Extremism

 

For this reason as Catholic religious leaders we condemn in the strongest terms possible, as did Islamic religious scholars in Mindanao, the violent extremist Maute group in Marawi. Its leaders and members have pledged allegiance to ISIS. They have contradicted the fundamental tenets of Islam by abducting and hostaging, maiming and killing the innocent.

 

Dialogue for Peace, the Common Word

 

Join us then, beloved people of good will, in conducting intra-faith dialogue among our respective co-religionists so that our various faiths may not be exploited and abused for the sake of terrorism or violent extremism. Let parents, schools, churches and mosques ensure that none may be lured by the recruitment efforts of terrorists. Let us teach the young and the old that our faiths are meant for peace. No religion teaches the killing of innocent people, simply because they belong to another religion.

 

Join us and let us continue the inter-religious dialogue called for by hundreds of Islamic leaders throughout the world. In 2007 they called for peace between Muslims and Christians when they wrote their famous open letter on “the Common Word” to Christian religious leaders. How true their words were! The Muslim leaders wrote:

 

The basis for peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God and love of neighbor.

 

This is the commandment of God in Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

 

Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.

 

Our Lord Jesus, who is also revered as prophet in the Qur’an, cited this scriptural text and elaborated on it in Mark 12:28-31.

 

One of the scribes … asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

 

He further commanded us: “Love one another as I love you” (John 15:12).

 

Praxis of Love and Gratitude

 

Loving our neighbor needs action. Let us together invest our resources to helping the thousands of people who have fled from the horrors of Marawi. Let us pray for the safety of trapped civilians and of those abducted and hostaged by the terrorists. Let us be vigilant and alert, helping our security forces thwart the threats of terrorism in other areas of Mindanao. Let us help the government rebuild the city of Marawi so that its citizens may return and restore their broken lives.

 

With profound gratitude we acknowledge the priceless generosity of kind donors from different faiths, both local and foreign, who promptly responded to meet the needs of the people of Marawi who have fled to safer areas. We appeal for more help especially for those home-based displaced people who are not yet adequately served.

 

Maryam, the mother of Jesus, is praised and honored in the Qur’an and by many Christians. Catholics believe that 100 years ago she appeared to three children in the village of Fatima, which is the very name of the daughter of the prophet Muhammad. To the prayers of Maryam, we commend our efforts for peace and harmony between peoples of different faiths.

 

“Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to one another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual good will” (see the Common Word letter).

 

May the God of peace be with you!

 

On behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,

 

+ Socrates B. Villegas, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
July 10, 2017

 

Prayer for the Araw ng Mabuhay

(Note: While I was checking out my old documents, I saw a prayer I made few years ago when I was still the parish priest of Parokya San Miguel in Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay (Diocese of Ipil). This is a peaceful place of tri-people: Christians, Muslims and the Subanen indigenous people. I prepared this prayer for the invocation during the annual Araw ng Mabuhay which is every January 25th of the year. I am posting it here because in less than two weeks from now, the beloved town I served will once again have their Araw ng Mabuhay)

#Interfaithdialogueislife

 

PAG-AMPO SA ARAW NG MABUHAY

Dalaygon namo nga Dios, Amahan sa tanang katawhan

Tinubdan sa mga gasa sa kinaiyahan

Nga maoy nagmatuto kanamo para kami mabuhi,

Daghang salamat Amahan sa gasa sa kadagatan, sa gasa sa hangin,

Sa gasa sa kayutaan, sa gasa sa katawhan,

Sa gasa sa pakig-ambit, sa gasa sa kalinaw, sa gasa sa panaghiusa,

Sa gasa sa kalambuan.

Tabangi kami Ginoo nga sa among pang-adlaw-adlaw nga pagkinabuhi

Mamahimo kaming takos sa pag-amping niining mga gasa

Kay kami mga piniyalan lamang.

Pinaagi niining tigom namo karon sa Araw ng Mabuhay

Hinaot nga kini mamahimong okasyon alang kanamo

Nga maedukar sa pag-amoma sa atong kinaiyahan

Ug mahagit sa pagwagtang sa mga

butang nga makadaot sa atong mga lungsuranon

labaw na sa atong mga kabatan-onan,

mga butang susama sa druga, illegal nga pagpanagat, kriminalidad,

pagpamutol sa mga kahoy

ug uban pang pagpasipala sa yuta, sa hangin ug sa atong katubigan.

Hinaot unta Amahan nga kining among tigom karon

Mamahimong hiniusang lihok – lihok Mabuhaynon, lihok lungsuranon,

alang sa edukasyon, kaayuhan ug malahutayong kalambuan sa

tanang lumulupyong Muslim,

mga Kristiyanos ug

mga Subanen.

Amen.

 

Youth Groups Call for Peace in Mindanao and the World in 2016 and Beyond

Peace Advocates form a solidarity circle for their concluding activity ‘candle-lighting for peace

Peace Advocates form a solidarity circle for their concluding activity ‘candle-lighting for peace

 

CEBU CITY (Press Release) – On November 29, 2015, different youth groups had a small dialogue and candle-lighting in celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace 2015 and in observance of the International Day in Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The event was initiated and facilitated by Jamil Faisal Saro Adiong, president of the Federation of Muslim Student Associations (FeMSA) through his #PeaceNaTa Campaign, a campaign which aims to reconcile the history-old gap between the Moros and the non-Moros.

 

The two-hour activity was joined by a few individuals and organizations such as Akbayan! Youth, Cebuano Youth Ambassadors, UP – Union of Progressive Students, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, Coalition of Democrats, Carolinian Circle of Young Diplomats, First Time Voters’ Network, Islamic Dawah Youth Association of Cebu and the Federation of Muslim Students Associations (FeMSA Cebu) with its member organizations Muslim Lancers Association, SWU – Muslim Students Association and Carolinian Muslim Students Association.

 

“We call on everyone to take active support and participation in education and peace advocacy. In this way, we will get to understand one’s differences and one’s facts. In this way, we will get to enjoy our shared common grounds and our distinct uniqueness. In this way, we will get to realize our visions of peace and coexistence. In this way, we will get to live with love and not hatred, happiness and not fear”, said Adiong.

 

Collectively, they:

 

Call on the public to go out and vote on May 2016 the candidates whom they think are best in addressing the problems of the state which includes the peace and conflict issues in Mindanao; call on the public to be in support for the indigenous peoples which include the Moros and the Lumads and their pursuit to peace and social justice.

 

Call on the members of the bicameral committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law to be more focused on their tasks as lawmakers amidst the fast approaching May 2016 elections and most importantly pass a CAB-based basic law that shall really address the problems of the ARMM.

 

Call on Senator Sonny Angara’s stronger push for the passage of Senate Bill 2474 that shall mandate all curriculum to study Moro History, Cultures and Identity Studies as this would be a great opportunity for the Filipinos to further understand the conflict situation in Mindanao and thus would be able to help promote a culture of peace.

 

Call on the international community to be in solidarity with the Palestinian people (Note: the dialogue was done during the International Day in Solidarity with the Palestinian People) and on their pursuit to peace and social justice; to unite and open their arms to refugees such that of Syrians and Iraqis, and all other nationalities whose homelands are war-torn; counter terrorism by means of education; and call on the international leaders and the private individuals to be more vigilant and careful in absorbing information from the Internet as this has been proven to be the mechanism of recruitment by voluntary and involuntary of both the extremist terrorist groups and the ethnocentrically fundamentalist reactors. #####

 

 

Contact Person:

Jamil Faisal Saro Adiong, +639178237071; jamilfaisaladiong@gmail.com

https://highstairs-a.akamaihd.net/HighStairs/cr?t=BLFF&g=342010b4-dea7-4ee4-a4a2-a691dcfda6b2https://highstairs-a.akamaihd.net/HighStairs/cr?t=BLFF&g=342010b4-dea7-4ee4-a4a2-a691dcfda6b2